I’ve been on my personal blogging journey for almost eighteen months and it’s been one of the most creatively fulfilling, interesting and fun times of my life. I never dreamt my blog would gain a good readership and grow like it has. To have been nominated for Best Lifestyle Blog in the Blog Awards Ireland is still unreal to me. As I prepare to hit the road next weekend with my best friend (and fellow finalist!) to attend the awards, I can’t wait to share in the excitement together and soak it all up.
And I think it’s a good time to reflect on why I started blogging in the first place. As more opportunities are opening up to me I’m conscious that I don’t want to be ‘the blogger who killed herself off‘! I don’t want to become a slave to PR companies and brands who want to send me freebies in exchange for blog posts. Of course I want to take advantage of amazing opportunities, support brands I admire and do fun collaborations, but not at the cost of Willow Lane becoming a second-rate ‘rent-a-blog’.
I’ll be the first to admit that having a PR company or brand get in touch with an opportunity is often a saving grace. There are weeks when I am feeling uninspired and it’s great to then be able to talk about a fab product or an amazing event I attended. It keeps the blog fresh and interesting as well as keeping me motivated.
But what motivated me to start blogging in the first place?
SHARING MY PASSIONS
This sounds a bit pretentious but I wanted to start a blog to share my passions in life with like-minded people. And I wanted a fun and creative product to work on. Starting a blog always seemed a far-off possibility. Since 2008 I’ve been reading blogs like Keiko Lynn, The Cherry Blossom Girl and What I Wore. These were written by amazingly inspiring women who I couldn’t imagine trying to emulate.
After a failed attempt at starting a blog in 2009 (I wrote one post and gave up) 2013 was the year Willow Lane was born and boy am I so glad I took the plunge! Now I get to write about fashion and personal style, homes and interiors, food and my travels. What I write about and how I write is on my terms and I truly love it. Finding my own voice was difficult however. After years of writing content for my 9-5 job I struggled to loosen up and write from the heart.
IMPROVING MY PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve always loved image-heavy blogs and I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless my blog featured good quality photographs. I’ve been using a DSLR since 2010 but it wasn’t until I started Willow Lane that I knew I had to step up my game. I’m by no means a naturally gifted photographer and there is still a lot that my camera can do which I have no clue about but by-in-large I am pleased with my photographs.
Photography can often be a lot more time-consuming than writing content. There’s the actual taking of the photos, the editing of the photographs and then the uploading of them. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love visually representing the content I’m writing about.
GAINING NEW TECHNICAL SKILLS
Learning to use Photoshop comes hand in hand with photography a lot of the time. For years I had wanted to learn about Photoshop but it was so incredibly daunting. Now I can tweak my photographs and prepare the fun collage images that bloggers so often use! As with my DSLR, there is so much Photoshop is capable of that I have no idea about but I’m proud that I can at least do some stuff!
I’m fortunate that my other half is a graphic designer and I have him to thank for my blogs’ look and design but he’s taught me a lot about html. As much as blogging is a great creative outlet, you still need some technical prowess if you want your blog to look professional, well-organised and easy to navigate.